Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP)

EFNEP helps limited-resource families and youth improve their eating behaviors and contributes to other personal development skills through behaviorally focused nutrition education. The program is administered by Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES) Cooperative Extension, and is supported by USDA's National Insitute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Smith-Lever funds.

The desired outcomes of our education are as follows:

  • Improved diets and nutritional welfare;
  • Increased knowledge of the essentials of human nutrition;
  • Increased ability to select and buy food that satisfies nutritional needs;
  • Improved practices in food production, preparation, storage, safety and sanitation;
  • Increased ability to manage food budgets and related resources such as food stamps.

EFNEP programming in New Jersey follows the USDA's Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) teaching model, i.e., it provides nutrition education through paraprofessionals (Community Assistants) who are peer educators, indigenous to the target population. In New Jersey, adult education in the EFNEP program is accomplished through classes that meet all of the following criteria; they are:

  • Comprised of 4-15 people;
  • Groups having at least 50% of the individuals who are either low income, pregnant women or who hail from families with children;
  • Groups that meet at least 6 times;
  • Classes that last a minimum of one hour per session;
  • Classes where programming is delivered over a minimum of 6 weeks.

To receive a graduation certificate from the NJ EFNEP program, adults must attend at least 6 classes as outlined above.

Youth programming, in New Jersey has the same requirements as adult programming, with two exceptions. Classes can contain up to 25 children per Community Assistant in pre-organized youth groups, and may meet for a minimum of 30 minutes, rather than one hour when a full hour is not available. Pre-school programs may meet 15-20 minutes.

EFNEP provides educational programming in the following counties:

The NJ Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program serves audiences not served by the NJ Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (NJ SNAP-Ed). In Fiscal Year 2008, we delivered classes to 3,129 adults and 6,397 youth. Racial breakdowns for adults and youth, respectively, were: 46% and 43% Black; 41% and 42% Hispanic; 19% and 8% White; 2% and 1% Asian; 1% and 1% Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islanders; and, 5% and 15% American Indian or Alaskan Native. For census purposes, 100% of New Jersey is categorized as urban. Eighty-three percent of our education efforts occurred in central cities of over 50,000; 3% occurred in suburbs of over 50,000 people; and 14% occurred in towns and cities of 10,000 - 50,000 people.

We have employed approximately 22 educators to disseminate the nutrition education lessons; 446 volunteers assisting in programmatic delivery. Again, the EFNEP program hires paraprofessionals who reflect the diversity of our participants with 41% of our paraprofessionals being African American, 55% being Hispanic, and 14% Caucasian.

From a survey administered to 2,084 (52%) of the adults who completed our program by attending 6 or more classes:

  • 39% more often planned meals in advance
  • 37% more often compared prices when shopping
  • 36% less often ran out of food at the end of the month
  • 37% more often used a grocery list when shopping
  • 38% more often thought about healthy food choices when deciding what to feed their families
  • 38% more often prepared food without adding salt
  • 48% more often used the "Nutrition Facts" on food labels to make healthy choices
  • 34% reported that their children ate breakfast more often
  • 28% more often followed the recommended practices of not allowing meat and dairy foods to sit out for more than two hours
  • 41% more often followed the recommended practice of not thawing foods at room temperature

For additional information regarding New Jersey EFNEP, please contact:

  1. Rutgers
  2. Executive Dean of Agriculture and Natural Resources
  3. School of Environmental and Biological Sciences